Winter Farm Chores Then and Now

Those who haven’t owned or worked on a farm sometimes get the idea that farmers can just take the winter off. With the snow moved in, the hay in the barn, and the crops all harvested, there can’t be much for a farmer to do from November to April, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Winter is a great time to catch up on machine repairs or barn repairs that you can’t get around to during the summer. For ranchers and mixed farmers, there’s never a quiet moment since cows, goats, and horses definitely aren’t taking the winter off. In fact, winter can be some of the busiest times for Alberta ranchers. Calving is just around the corner, and we have to be ready for it before it comes!

Winter Farm Chores Then and Now - Farming for Freedom - Land Realty Calgary

In 2015, there are still a lot of daily farm chores that have to be done by hand. Depending on the farm’s livestock and how much machine help is available, there may be letting goats out for the day, feeding chickens and gathering eggs, milking cows, and much more. While some of my friends do enjoy the slightly quieter times to catch up on their reading, just as many have equipment maintenance to do, and others have off season jobs where they work full time doing trade work, trucking, etc.

While modern times haven’t been kind to farmers lately and more and more folks are finding they need to work other jobs — especially in the winter, the 1920s was very different but just as busy.

In 1920, before our cozy, warm houses heated with gas furnaces, farmers and their kids would have to climb out of from under feather duvets into the cold air of their homes. They’d begin their chores well before the sun rose which, beyond the regular feeding, watering, milking, gathering, etc, would also include hauling in wood for the fire and harvesting ice! The wood was used in a box stove or wood stove to heat the home and provide a place for cooking and baking. The ice that they collected was then stored in underground ice houses. During the summer, the stored ice would be used to make ice cream and keep food cold.

Some things in farming sure have changed over the last 95 years, but fortunately, most of the change was for the better, and a lot of the freedom and lifestyle that comes with owning a farm still thrives even in our technologically dependent world. For the less fortunate changes like needing a second job to help subsidize the farm or trying to wade through a messy tax situation, the experts at Farming Families can help. Call me today at (403) 277-2605.

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